Programme Description

Study objectives

The aim of the programme is to produce experts in biology and environmental science. The programme contains two specialization areas (majors):

  • sustainable management of inland aquatic resources
  • ecology and evolutionary biology

Students are assigned to one of these majors based on their application letter and academic background.

The aquatic major focusses on environmental and biological processes that determine the characteristics and ecosystem services of inland waters and ecologically, economically and socially sustainable use of natural resources. The ecology major focusses on fundamental concepts and theories of ecology, genetics, and evolutionary biology and the ability to use these at the individual, population, community and ecosystem level.

Graduates will be able to:

  • apply theories and use the primary literature and empirical observations to answer scientific questions.
  • use their knowledge to develop solutions to practical questions.
  • obtain, evaluate and incorporate the latest knowledge of scientific problems using appropriate scientific practices and following ethical principles.

The language of instruction

All courses are taught in English. The majority of the literature used is in English.

Study contents

The study content within aquatic science covers the management and sustainable use of inland waters, with specialisation possibile in lake and river ecology (including typology, pollution and conservation) or in fish biology and fisheries (including sustainable use of wild fish stocks, aquaculture, aquatic parasitology and fish diseases). The study content within ecology and evolutionary biology ranges from genes and molecular biology to ecosystem functioning. Relevant courses cover basic ecology and evolutionary biology as well as theoretical modelling and practical applications.

Tuition fees

In Finnish universities, there are no tuition fees for EU/EEA citizens. Tuition fees concern only non-EU/EEA degree students who start their studies in English-taught Master's degree programmes in August 2017 or after that.

The tuition fee is 12 000 euros / academic year.

Please note that no tuition is charged if you:

  • are a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland
  • are in possession of a valid residence permit in Finland of the type A, P, P-EU, or EU Blue Card

University of Jyväskylä has scholarships available for students who are required to pay tuition fees. Scholarships are applied for when applying for the admission to the programme.

Additional information on tuition fees and scholarships is available on the JYU website.

Choosing a main subject or field of specialization

The major of your studies is either Ecology and Evolutionary Biology or Aquatic Sciences. Your earlier studies define the major of your master’s studies.

Structure of studies

The programme requires completion of 120 ETCS credits within 2 years, with compulsory and optional components. This includes lectures, practicals (in the laboratory, computer class and in the field), book examinations, independent seminar work and individual training in a research group. Specialisation is possible through the selection of the optional courses and choice of topic for the individual thesis. This individual research project with associated courses and seminars, in which independent research skills are developed, is a core part of the programme. Students must also complete 6 ECTS credits of language and communication studies, including at least 2 ECTS in Finnish language studies.

Final project

The Master’s degree thesis takes approximately five months to complete, including the planning and execution of a project, and writing up the thesis (altogether 30 ETCS credits). The Master’s thesis includes an introduction to the scientific literature of the subject, experimental/theoretical work and a discussion. Experimental work can vary greatly depending on the subject. In the Master’s thesis you will develop skills to gather information, assess and apply information, and present information together with developing scientific thinking. Often the Master’s thesis work is part of a larger research topic and the majority of the thesis work is done within research groups in the department. This means that the student will be a member of a research group and receive guidance from other group members, in addition to the nominated supervisors.

Career opportunities

Globally, there is a growing need for experts in the field of biological and environmental science. This global demand is expected to continue or even increase due to global environmental problems caused by human population growth and decrease in natural resources.


The department and faculty are both very international. All research groups operate at the international level and the working language in all groups is English.

Co-operation with other parties

Established collaborations exist with relevant national state institutes, such as SYKE (Finnish Environment Institute) and LUKE (Natural Resources Institute Finland). Collaboration is mainly in the form of teacher exchange, shared supervision of Master’s theses and internship positions. All research groups have both national and international collaborations with other universities as well as research institutes.

Research focus

Research within Aquatic Science encompasses the functioning of aquatic ecosystems, especially the effect of anthropogenic environmental impacts on inland aquatic resources, parasites and diseases of aquatic organisms, and sustainable fisheries management. Ecology and biology of aquatic animals is another research interest within aquatic sciences. A strong research area is environmental technology, e.g. methane utilizing purification of sewage waters and improvement of the denitrification process.

Research within Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is diverse, encompassing approaches at different levels: from DNA, through organisms and populations to ecosystems. Particularly strong research areas are sexual and aposematic signal evolution, biodiversity and conservation studies, genetics of adaptation and speciation, evolutionary ecology, and life-history evolution. Researchers working within the sections continue a strong tradition of experimental research, using state of the art techniques, to investigate and integrate disparate biological fields. Our work is facilitated by a pleasant working environment, with, for example, a well-equipped DNA laboratory, and the Konnevesi Research Station.

Postgraduate study opportunities

The MSc degrees qualify students for advanced studies in bioscience, especially aquatic sciences, ecology and evolutionary biology and other related fields.